All blood donors must meet Massachusetts General Hospital’s eligibility requirements to donate whole blood, platelets or red blood cells. Donors must complete a questionnaire, which includes health and lifestyle questions, at their blood donation appointment to determine eligibility.
Basic Requirements for Blood Donation
- Donors must be in good health and feel well the day of their donation
- Donors must be at least 17 years of age, or 16 with parental consent (PDF: 16-year-old parental consent form)
- Donors must weigh at least 100 lbs (110 lbs if donating blood on one of our mobile units or if donating platelets) and no more than 350 lbs
- Donors must show a photo ID
- Whole Blood: Every 56 days
- Platelets: Every 7 days
- Double Red Cells: Every 112 days
- Antibiotics: Donors are deferred for 24 hours after their final dose.
- Cancer: Donors with a history of most types of cancer are eligible to donate 1 year from the date of their last treatment.
There is no deferral period for donors with a history of:
- Basal cell carcinoma of the skin
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin
- Carcinoma-in-situ or Dysplasia of the cervix or breast, if treated
There is a permanent deferral for donors with a history of:
- Multiple myeloma
- Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia
- Colds: Donors are not eligible if they are not feeling well and healthy the day of donation.
- Diabetes: Donors with diabetes (type I or II) are eligible to donate.
- Dental Work: Donors are eligible to donate following routine dental work.
- Gonorrhea: Donor is deferred for 12 months after date of last treatment.
- Heart Attack: Further evaluation is needed.
- Hepatitis/Hepatitis Exposure: Donor is deferred for 12 months after hepatitis B, or hepatitis C exposure.
- High Blood Pressure: Donors with high blood pressure are eligible to donate if their blood pressure is controlled with medication.
- Pregnant: Donors who are pregnant or less than six weeks postpartum are not eligible to donate.
- Stitches: Donors are not eligible while stitches/sutures are still in.
- Syphilis: Donor is deferred for 12 months after date of last treatment.
- Transfusion: Donor is deferred for 12 months after a transfusion of blood or blood components.
- Transplant: Donor is deferred for 12 months after an organ transplant.
Individuals who have had a positive test for HIV/AIDS or who have been at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS are permanently deferred from blood donation.
The following risk factors require a permanent deferral:
- Have any signs or symptoms of AIDS such as: fevers, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, cough, diarrhea, swollen glands, white spots in the mouth, or purple or blue bumps on the skin
- Use of nonprescription drugs or steroids by needle, even once
- Have taken drugs or money for sex ever
The following risk factors require a 12-month deferral from the date of occurrence:
- Have had sex, even once, with someone who has taken money or drugs in exchange for sex
- Accidental needle stick
- Male who has had sex with another male
- Have had sexual contact in the past 12 months with anyone described above
- Malarial-Endemic Areas: Donor is deferred for 12 months after travel to a malarial-endemic area.
- United Kingdom: Donor is permanently deferred for travel/residence of 3 months or more in the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, The Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or Falkland Islands) from 1980-1996.
- Europe: Donor is permanently deferred for travel/residence of 5 years or more in Europe since 1980. There are some exceptions regarding military bases.
- For questions regarding travel, please contact the Blood Donor Center.
Other Lifestyle Factors
- Ear/Body Piercing: Donor is eligible if piercing was performed using sterile single-use equipment.
- Tattoos: Donor is deferred for 12 months after getting a tattoo
Platelet Donation Eligibility Guidelines
In addition to the eligibility guidelines for blood donations, platelet donors must:
- Weigh at least 110 lbs
- Avoid aspirin and aspirin-containing products for 48 hours prior to platelet donation
Double Red Blood Cell Donation Eligibility Guidelines:
In addition to the eligibility guidelines for blood donations, double red blood cell donors must meet specific height and weight requirements:
- Female double red cell donors must be at least 5’ 5” and weigh at least 150 lbs
- Male double red cell donors must be at least 5’ 1” and weigh at least 130 lbs
- Download in-depth eligibility guidelines (PDF)